The Cape Fear Crossing project, currently unfunded for right-of-way acquisition and construction, could potentially receive funds for portions of the project, now that it's included in the state's latest draft transportation plan.
The state has identified $31 million for a part of the project's right-of-way acquisition and utilities in draft 2020-29 State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) released Thursday, according to Mike Kozlosky, executive director of the Wilmington Urban Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (WMPO).
The draft STIP plan for 2020-29 won't be approved until this summer. Once approved, funds for the Cape Fear Crossing Project, if they remain in the final spending plan,
would not be released for use until 2028 and 2029, Kozlosky said.
The funding recommendation, however, is only part of the plan's draft and could still change.
"Since this is a draft document, items such as budget modifications, project cost increases, delivery schedule reviews and other factors will likely result in some programming changes prior to adoption later this summer," Kozlosky said.
"This is a first step in getting the project funded in the State Transporation Improvement Program," Kozlosky said, adding that it also acknowledges that the Cape Fear Crossing Project was ranked high enough in the state's scoring process to potentially receive some funding in the final plan.
The Cape Fear Crossing project, which is still under study, aims to plan and construct a new crossing over the Cape Fear River and make improvements, upgrades or build roadways to improve the flow of traffic between Brunswick and New Hanover counties. Improving freight movements to and from the Port of Wilmington is also a goal of the project.
The selection of the project was included with more than 1,600 transportation projects selected by the state in the draft 2020-29 transportation plan
, according to an NCDOT news release. The plan was released Thursday during the state's transportation board meeting. It is updated every two years.
Kozlosky said that potential funding in this yearslong plan is viewed as a "big step forward" for the Cape Fear Crossing project.
The state is currently working on the draft environmental document for the project. There are six alternative routes identified for the project
, with three different crossings over the Cape Fear River.
Last year, the WMPO funded the continuation of the project's environmental document
for $1.5 million from the Surface Transportation Block Grant program, Kozlosky said.
The environmental draft impact statement will be used to determine an alternative route that best fits the project's needs. Several factors, including environmental and economic, are taken into consideration for the pick of the alternative, which is slated for this summer, according to NCDOT.
The decision, however, is not final. The final environmental impact statement is set for spring of next year with a final decision planned for next summer.
Construction for the project has yet to be funded or included in any plan. NCDOT estimates it would take five years to complete the project, once funding has been secured.
According to NCDOT, the project's preliminary cost estimates are between $950 million and $1.1 billion, but final costs will not be determined until the design process.